ATHENS, Ga. — Athens is making history and hosting its first Pride parade, according to organizers.
Georgia's famous college town will host its first-ever Pride parade event, welcoming a milestone for the state's northeast LGBTQ+ communities.
The parade will take center stage in downtown Athens on Sunday, June 12. It will also celebrate the merging of two local queer organizations: Athens Pride and Athens Queer Collective.
Athens Pride and Queer Collective (APQC) will make its debut during the city's first parade which will also serve as a march to bring awareness and visibility to the issues affecting those who identify with the LGBTQ+ communities, organizers said in a news release.
"Athens has made great progress over the last few years in regards to advancing the rights of LGBTQ+ people. Meaningful policy change is important, and coupling those policy changes with public visibility for our diverse queer communities also plays a vital role in remembering and honoring the history of our people," Cameron Jay Harrelson, president of APQC said in a prepared statement.
The parade, which will mark six years since the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting that killed 49 people and wounded 53, will also pay homage to lives taken in the name of homophobia and hate.
"The shooting at Pulse Nightclub in my hometown of Orlando shook me. I'm queer, I have queer family members, and I have queer friends I grew up with still living in Orlando. It was this sequence of events that led to my joining the Athens Pride board," Amber Barnhardt said, alluding that the nightclub known to be a hub and safe space for the LGBTQ+ communities affected people even in Georgia.
"I am looking forward to this historic moment," she said about the parade.
Athens' first Pride parade will kick off at 1:30 p.m. The route will travel on Hull Street and end at Thomas Lay Park.
Paradegoers can also enjoy the "BBQueer" cookout, community resources, vendors, fellowship and food. The event will not permit the consumption or sale of alcohol "in an effort to provide more sober spaces for queer people to find community," organizers said.
People can learn more about the event at athenspride.org/parade.